Thursday, January 26, 2017

We're Going Into Battle - R2BC

We're ready, we're stoked, we're dueling to kill. It's going to be bloody and people are going to die. It's been brewing for a long time. Some say for as long as 30 years, some say 17, and some say it all started seven years before. For us it's been a thing since last July. Relentless, every day, through exhaustion and all other personal highs and lows. We never lost faith, we never gave up, we never stopped believing. And now we have reached the final showdown.

I've been reading Harry Potter to DD every night in bed for seven months. I've read almost seven books out loud at the average rate of 10-15 pages a night. I admit that some nights we read far too much and far too late because we simply had to know what happened next.

We are at the final 130 pages and about to enter the Battle of Hogwarts.

Last night was exhilarating. We were both heady with anticipation as the climax drew near. Without giving too much away in case there is one person in the world who's not read it yet, DD was throwing herself about in excitement as more and more supporters unexpectedly showed up to join the good fight. Old friends from way back stepping up to the plate. The sort of friends we all hope we have in the sort of  the community we all want to belong to.

At times it was frustrating. Like when we just wanted to start getting organized, evacuate the little ones, protect the castle, formulate a plan. Volde.... He Who Must Not Be Named was on his way and would be at the castle gate any minute. With no time to spare Snape suddenly appeared and had to be dealt with, which took almost 2 pages! Ughhhh!

Professor McGonagall, however, was on top form. No one has quite the same dry wit as Minerva McGonagall. I read her in my best Jean Brodie accent (as she was in fact Miss Brodie in a previous incarnation). "We will delay him by protecting the castle [with protection charms]."
Harry: "Is that possible?"
McGonagall: "We teachers are quite good at magic."

DD and I have an added interest in whether Luna (our favourite) is going to marry Dean Thomas or Neville Longbottom (our other favourite). We love it that the former glumf and the flake are now committed, brave and strong leaders.

We rolled around laughing at the thought of Aberforth's face when hundreds of children appear in his living room and have to be disapperated home, each with a qualified, license-holding witch or wizard of course as they are all under age. It's going to be bedlam. We'll probably miss all that fun but I'm sure we'll hear about it afterwards.

And finally as things started to get moving and shaking, with the enemy at the gate, with the level of suspense and excitement at its highest in all the seven months of home-Jackanory...... the chapter ended.

I'm surprised either of us managed to fall asleep after that. But luckily we did as we need all the energy we can muster. Tonight we go into battle.

Pop over to Mummy from the Heart for other Reasons 2B Cheerful.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Living the dream With Parry Hotter And The Cheese Sandwich

Tools of the trade in soft focus
I watched some You Tube videos yesterday about having the courage to do what you really want to do in life. There was a great quote from The Minimalists along the lines of: Most people spend their lives working at things they don't enjoy to buy things they don't need to impress people they don't like.

I'm way ahead of them in that I've stopped buying things I don't need and I do like all the people in my life. I also enjoy what I do but there needs to be some fine tuning - i.e. stop working for one organization that pays peanuts. (I didn't realize that they paid so much less than all the other similar organizations until I was in too deep to pull out without upsetting a lot of people that I didn't want to upset. Sorry if that's cryptic but one has to be careful not to burn bridges too early in the game.)

So while I don't want to give up what I do entirely, I want to make big changes. And of course I want to be a full time writer - who doesn't? For years I wanted to write Heidi, but it had already been done. Now of course I want to have written Harry Potter - who doesn't? Alas and alack that too has been done.

On the other hand, there are half a dozen HP rip-offs that are also successful: Charlie Bones, Percy Jackson, Septimus Heap, etc... And other epic quests involving parallel worlds like Philip Pullman's Northern Lights Trilogy. However, I don't want to jump onto the epic-quest-in-a-parallel-world band wagon.

DD and I lie in bed trying to think of a theme that I could develop into a great novel. She keeps suggesting witches. I keep telling her that witches, wizards, fairies and princesses have been done to death so they're out. I tell her that the subject must be something I'm passionate about so trains and mountain climbing, for example, wouldn't be appropriate for me. Or animals - I don't do animals.

"What am I passionate about?" I muse. "Sandwiches," replies DD without hesitation. Hmmm Parry Hotter and the Cheese Sandwich? I don't think so.

I've not given up dreaming and thinking and planning. The gurus on You Tube say to think big. You can have anything you want if you just tell The Universe (and do it of course). Marissa Peer is one of my favourites. She says be precise because you get exactly what you ask for. Her example is not to say you want a week off work and to be left alone. Do this and you'll wake up with flu. Punkt! A week off work and no one will come near you.

So I'm planning my next move and I'm thinking big. Very big. I'm thinking something along the lines of The Bible but without all the subsequent carnage, wars, hatred and terrorism. It starts with the creation of course and ends with peace and love throughout the world amongst vegan humankind and all the animals who roam therein. Oh, I forgot I don't do animals. Back to the drawing board.

There is a risk factor. You give up your peanut paying job to follow the dream and all those life-coaches and gurus egg you on to have the courage, seize the day, etc, etc. Meanwhile that crappy job brought in just enough to see you through the month with the mortgage paid. And of course those cheerleaders lose nothing if you fail.

There's some necessary selfishness involved too. As one astute comment in the Daily Mail Online put it, after a 'Pursue Happiness' type article, someone still has to clean the public toilets and fix the plumbing. We can't all be living the dream. In order to live your dream a lot of people have to be willing to work for your comfort.

So if I can find the courage, square it with my conscience, pay the bills, and find my passion.... I'll be sharpening my pencils shortly.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Sick But Not Too Sick - R2BC

Lemon tree growing. #SignOfSpring. No lemons yet
Time for another Reasons 2B Cheerful.

The Wizard of Oz
We went to a fabulous performance of the Wizard of Oz. I knew one of my pupils was in it, and her brother whom I taught last year. However, we were greeted at the door by another friend who was assistant director and in the chorus. Another friend designed and painted all the sets. Another friend of DD's was a Munchkin and four other friends' children were also in it. I've said it before - Jerusalem is a small city.

As I was scouring the programme for names of people I know - obligatory, it's rude not to - we met friends from the neighbourhood with their twin boys and an ex-colleague and friend with one of her daughters and 10 of her grandchildren! Then when we sat in our seats we found we were sitting next to another friend and her son. And there were others. Did I mention that Jerusalem is a small city? To be fair, the English speaking community is a sub-set of a small city so it's not unusual to meet people you know on these occasions.

We followed the yellow brick road back to the bus stop afterwards singing all the way.

Sick but not too sick
We woke up for schools (DD's and mine) this morning and we got dressed, Suddenly I heard a deep fog-horn cough from DD. And then another and another. She said that her throat doesn't hurt and that she wants to go to school. I almost let her. But that cough is frighteningly loud and seems to come from somewhere in the depths of her. I'd not be pleased if I were her teacher and she turned up with that cough. I also don't want it to develop into something worse.

Executive decision by me - DD stays home in the warm for the day.

Of course this means I have to stay with her. I wasn't happy about this. I feel a deep guilt about not going into school as other teachers have to cover for me. Even though two of the other English teachers have been off for several days this winter because their children have been ill, I still feel bad about it.

However, I'm home whether I wanted to be or not. And whilst I'm home, I'm catching up on everything while DD watches videos and drinks warm tea. And it's rather nice to have an unexpected Thursday at home. (Check list: Dishes in sink, laundry, blog (done), grading, answer emails, tidy and clean apartment, drink lots of coffee... )

(BTW: At my school and at college many teachers bring their sick children into school with them for the day. Does this happen anywhere else? I know one doesn't want to miss a day of work but there has to be something wrong with a child who is too sick to attend his/her own school/nursery being brought in to spread their germs at another school. What are your experiences in this department? In our case the point is for DD to get better so if I'm dragging her out to my school she may as well be in her own school.)

It's my 6th Blogiversay today! My stats are running at a very healthy (though not viral) 1,000+ views a day. Between you and me, I think I must be being used by some English language schools in Russia, China and India as there seems to be a lot of daily interest from North and East Asia. And my Klout score is a respectable 50. (Those who know what this means will know what I mean.) TOTS100 took a slide this month which was very surprising considering all the other numbers but though I'm down, I'm not out and still trying to claw my way back into the top 1000. I always say that it's the other blogs upping their game rather than me slipping.

All in all it was a good blogging year. Ten more posts than in the previous two years, a fair bit of controversy [no such thing as bad publicity] and I'm still enjoying it so no thoughts about giving it a rest yet. Onwards and upwards. I'm still interested in representing FILOFAX if any FILOFAX honchoes are reading. And a holiday review would be welcome - Eilat? Cyprus? Seeing as I'm in the area already.

Plenty of room to grow. 
Mild  Weather
It's been very mild this week and positively warm on a couple of days - between 14 and 17 degrees C. It makes people have thoughts of spring and [probably falsely] think that the winter is almost over. So even though we may still get snow later, it's lovely to have this reprieve while it lasts.

I'm on the Reasons 2B Cheerful linky over at Mummy from the Heart.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Magnified, Sanctified, Be Thy Holy Name

As I wrote yesterday, I had decided to say the Kaddish prayer every day for the 11 months of mourning, at home, alone with my thoughts and my feelings, and without rules and regulations about how and when I should say it. It's not very long and it only takes a couple of minutes to say. I left my prayer book out on the sideboard where I'd see it every day and it would be handy with the silk page marker in the Kaddish page.

Now here's an interesting fact for those who don't know. Jewish days start in the evening at sundown and end the next evening at sundown. That's why our Sabbath starts on Friday night and you can go out and party on Saturday night. So you need to say Kaddish before sundown or it's the next day and you've missed it for that day. Of course I could have made it my habit to say Kaddish every night before I went to bed but I liked saying it in the morning when the day and I were fresh.

I cannot tell you how many days I missed as I caught sight of the prayer book on the side and and simultaneously noted that darkness had fallen outside. That being said, the notion of Kaddish meant that I thought of my Father every single day for the first half of the year, even if it was just to say, "oh no! I forgot to say Kaddish.... again!" So it definitely served its purpose.

After about five months things shifted a bit. Some of it has to do with the nature of the Kaddish. If you don't know what it is already, you'd think it was a prayer asking God to be merciful on the soul of the departed or something about comforting the mourner. It is, after all, called the Mourner's Kaddish in the prayer book. Nope. None of that. It's a prayer of Praise to The Lord. Just that. Magnified, Sanctified, Be thy Holy Name as Leonard Cohen sang in You Want It Darker. (Some say that Leonard Cohen was saying his own Kaddish in this, his last song.)

Various commentaries have explained it as taking you out of yourself in that even in our darkest moments we give praise to God. Another angle is that we focus on the bigger picture by praising God and acknowledging that the whole of life is part of God's plan. I was a bit shocked to be honest. However, after googling it, I did gain some comfort from the bigger picture explanation.

And then after about five months, it was enough. My God doesn't need me to declare so much daily praise. God is cool and self assured. God's self esteem doesn't need me to buoy it up every day. God knows how I feel about It. So I stopped saying Kaddish, and I stopped forgetting to say Kaddish, and I put the prayer book back in the cupboard where it lives.

For the full account of my journey through mourning see:
What is Shiva
The Phone Call
The Funeral
Our Shiva
Kaddish and Me

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

One Year Of Mourning - Yarhzeit

Today we have our first Yarhzeit. This is the anniversary of the death of a parent (although it can be observed for any close relative or friend). There are various customs but the bottom line is that you light a memorial candle that burns for 24 hours, say the Kaddish prayer and keep the day sombre. (The references say refrain from eating meat or drinking wine. Seriously? I never do either of these in the middle of the week.)

The first Yarhzeit also marks the end of the year of official mourning which you observe only for your parents. (Otherwise people from big families could have years of mourning as they all get older.)

It's a funny old year. There are rules and customs and, it seems, in the end everyone does what they feel comfortable doing. The main customs are not to go to any parties or places of entertainment - defined as places where there is live music, not to wear any new clothes, and to say the Kaddish prayer three times a day with a minyan (a quorum of 10 Jewish men over the age of Bar Mitzva).

Many Jewish men do go to three services a day throughout their lives, Most don't. I remember my father going to a service once a day when he was saying Kaddish for his father. At the weekends he would go to our local shul (synagogue) for the morning service and when at work, he'd go to the afternoon service at the shul near his office in Great Portland Street, London.

I wanted to say Kaddish but it was not realistic to think I could get to a minyan even once a day. As a full-time working, single mother, without a car, I can't even commit to getting to the supermarket once a week. It is for this reason that women are actually exempt from saying Kaddish. Yes, that's right, we don't have to do it at all. But I, like many modern Jewish women, wanted to say it.

My sister in London, who has older children and a car, committed to saying Kaddish with a minyan once a day for the first 30 days (a period of more intense mourning). In the end she continued for the whole year as she said she found it comforting. I don't know what my brother did - I didn't ask and he didn't tell me.

I decided to say Kaddish on my own at home without a minyan for the whole year.  This decision was reinforced by two events that occurred at our shiva. The first was on the Sunday of the shiva. There was a discussion about whether we could get a minyan at the house for the afternoon service or whether my sister and brother would have to go to shul. We had five men in the house (brother, bro-in-law, and three teenage nephews), We had two visiting males and they were wondering if they should knock on the neighbour's door to ask him and his two sons to come and make up the numbers. At that moment I decided that even if I had the opportunity to say Kaddish with a minyan, I would not. I had no interest in giving significance to a minyan that I was not even considered a part of, to heighten my Kaddish. In fact, after that incident, I started leaving the room when they did services in the house in order to say my Kaddish in private.

A few days later my sister's rabbi was visiting and they were discussing how she was going to say Kaddish in the shul. He said, "you just have to make sure that someone is saying Kaddish."
I was confused. "What do you mean? She's saying Kaddish."
The rabbi turned to me and answered with a completely straight face, "as she is a woman, a man has to say the Kaddish with her. It can be another mourner or it can be any man who has previously lost a parent."
Gobsmacked is a word I could use here to describe my reaction. I kept my mouth shut however.
After the rabbi had left, other friends told me that not all other orthodox shuls hold by that rule and that it's entirely at the discretion of the individual rabbi in charge. My decision to not say Kaddish with a minyan was confirmed as the right decision for me.

Tomorrow I'll tell you about my Kaddish experience and explain what the prayer is. And later about how I avoided parties, live music and new clothes.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Conkers And Other Supermarket Surprises - R2BC

Conkers in the Supermarket!
Yeah I know it's the little things in life, blah, blah, blah; and I really do believe that. However, when the supposedly little things, like a trip to the supermarket, take up almost your whole, one free morning, it turns into a much bigger thing.

The supermarket on a Friday morning is hell as it closes at 2 pm and isn't open all day on Saturday (Shabbat). And Shabbat is a big deal here - think Christmas dinner, Boxing Day lunch and Easter Sunday Tea (if there is such a thing) all in one day. Obviously many people don't bother with all three meals but it's still of lot of food and Friday night is when people eat together. So add at least half an hour at the checkout, ten minutes at the cheese counter, as well as the 30 minutes of walking to and from (10 minutes downhill to and 20 minutes uphill back with a full trolley and extra bags). I usually shop on Wednesday or on Friday at 1 pm just before it closes and most people are sorted.

Anyway, here are my R2BC around the Supermarket theme...

Nephew coming for Shabbat
Today my nephew texted me at 8 am to ask if he can come for Shabbat and stay over. No problemo but I do need to serve real food and it all has to be gluten free for him. This is why I went shopping first thing in the morning to make sure I could get what I needed. I did. And we are looking forward to the company.

Friends in the Supermarket
I met a friend in the aisles who has been through some rough times and has come out the other end looking fabulous and feeling very happy. Of course I didn't know the half of it until this morning but it was good to see her and catch up. And great that she's doing so well and looking amazing. (You know who you are :~).)

Neighbours in the Supermarket
I met my upstairs neighbour in supermarket. As usual I'd underestimated the volume of my haul compared the the capacity of my shopping trolley, not to mention the mass of the total compared to the strength in my arms. Fortuitously we left at the same time and I asked him if he'd mind taking my bulky 48-roll package of toilet paper home in his car. (I had to stop for something on the way home so a ride would not have helped me and he didn't have room for my whole trolley anyway.)

We arrived back home at the same time so he also helped me up three flights of stairs by carrying the toilet paper and my extra shopping bag. I really should have got a delivery today - I messed up - and I would not have managed to make it home with everything if I'd not met him. I would have got up the stairs in two journeys but six flights of stairs with heavy shopping isn't fun. Thanks Meir, *Neighbour of the Week Award*.

Bags at the Supermarket
We have finally joined the western world in that we now have to pay for Supermarket bags. At 10 agarot ( about 2p) each, it's not a big deal but out of principle I prefer not to. My Supermarket is giving away reusable shopping bags - one for every 100 shekels you spend. They never have any left by Friday so I've saved up seven tokens so far for the next time I make it there earlier in the week.

However, I did buy 1kg of a certain cheese that got me a free reusable freezer-shopping bag that is much sturdier than the other free bags. So I had my extra bag that fit all my trolley overflow (I usually have at least three plastic bags as well as the trolley). And now it lives in the trolley happily ever after for the foreseeable future.

Can you spot a potential seventy-fiver?
They are selling conkers in the Supermarket. I had to take a picture. They're  not graded so you don't know if  your're buying a potential two-er, tenner, or seventy-fiver. Also, you can't just buy one for the odd game of conkers as they sell them by the kg, I would say you need to buy 100g at least, which is about 15 conkers. Who's got time do do all that soaking them in vinegar, baking them in the oven, making the holes and threading the string? And that's before you even start playing. I didn't buy any.

(This last bit was a joke. These are sweet chestnuts that you can roast and eat. DO NOT TRY TO EAT ROASTED CONKERS (horse chestnuts) - THEY ARE POISONOUS!)

Coffee and Blog
Best of all, I arrived home with a whole hour to spare before I have to go and collect DD from school. I made myself a cuppa and decided to let the cooking and the cleaning and the grading and the report cards, wait while I blogged.

Each week seems to get more manic and me more tired in the evenings. I really want to blog every day or at least every other day. I was going to say, in an ideal world, but in in an ideal world I'd have nothing to blog about. Anyway, come the first moment in the day when I have free time and I've not got the mind for it. January started so well with four posts in one week. And then Eight days with nothing. So blow the other stuff - I'm blogged. :~).

As always, I'm linking up with the R2BC linky with Michelle on Mummy from the Heart.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Magic Carpet Reasons 2B Cheerful

I had the carpet cleaned for the first time in 10 years. My carpet is a large area rug in the living room so it gets a lot of foot traffic. DD eats at the coffee table sometimes while watching a DVD or playing. There have been spills of all sorts over the years and a hoovering once a week just doesn't do it. Added to that my old dinosaur of a hoover was suffering from all the ailments of old age (and maybe even dementia).

Having cleaned the carpet I was then treated to a new vacuum cleaner for my Hanukka present from my mum. I know that sounds a bit sad but seriously, it's what I wanted and needed. I chose a slim light-weight cleaner that stores away neatly in a cupboard and can be moved around easily. And the machine bit lifts off to become a hand-held dust buster. The accessories all fit into their own tote bag. I'm psyched.

So while you're spritzing on your new perfume, luxuriating in your new sexy underwear, showing off your new expensive jewellery, relaxing in your sumptuous bath oils and salts, or enjoying any of your fabulous Christmas presents from your loved ones; think of me and my brand new vacuum cleaner. I'll be zipping around the apartment zapping the dust with great gusto.

It's got red, shiny bits. :~)

Disclaimer: I was gifted this vacuum cleaner by my mum who has no connection whatsoever with the company who manufactured it or the shop that sold it to us at the same discount offered to all January shoppers.

I'm linking up with R2BC which is back at Mich's blog - Mummy from the Heart.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Another Day Another Strike

Working from home on a school day.
The teachers' strike yesterday passed without any fuss after the initial will they won't they and waiting for the news in the morning. I wasn't inconvenienced at all because I can work from home on a Tuesday morning. I know others were greatly affected by not knowing until the last minute and then having to deal with their own morning work commitments.

Today brought us another strike which has affected me. The buses are not running for 24 hours from 5 am this morning until 5 am tomorrow morning. It has been threatening all week but it was finally announced last night that no agreement with the workers' union had been made.

The school where I teach on Wednesdays is a 40 minute bus ride (25 minutes by car taking a direct route) so it's too far to walk. We got an email from the deputy head about shared taxi's but I didn't understand how it worked as it was a lot of Hebrew and the link took me to a Google site inviting me to create a new page. I also wanted to take my daughter into school this morning rather than letting her walk herself to school in case there were no staff there.

So after a late start anyway I called a teacher who lives nearby and asked her if she was driving in to school. She had to drive her husband to work in the other direction after taking her son to nursery - late as his childminder was delayed by the lack of buses - and only then would she be making her way to school. And who knows what her arrangements for coming home are. I didn't want to risk being stuck without a ride home.

I texted that I wasn't coming in today. I got a message back that there is no permission to miss a day because of the bus strike. I texted that it's too far to walk. The message came back: We all used shared taxis, I sent you an email about it last night. Me: I didn't understand how it worked. I'll see you tomorrow.

Here's the thing about my school. I hate it in the winter (December/January/February) because some lessons I have to teach in a bomb shelter with broken windows where the heater goes off for an hour every other hour. The other lessons I have small groups and we have to it in the foyer by the front door and it's freezing. So for three days a week for three months a year I sit freezing in my coat for the whole day, apart from break times in the cosy, heated teachers' room.

There are a lot of good things about my school - a philosophy of inclusion, small groups and plenty of pastoral care when needed in the not so affluent surrounding community. The flip side is that small groups and less money means teaching in any drafty corner you can find.

So I admit that I'm ecstatic when there is an excuse not to go in and be uncomfortable all day in the deep mid-winter. I admit that I made very little effort to get to school today. On the other hand, the deputy head lives two streets away from me and she didn't call to offer me a ride or to share a taxi.

I'm cool. The worst they can do is fire me.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

To Strike Or Not To Strike?

Random Teachers' Room lockers
Last night the Teachers' Union announced a warning strike whereby primary and middle schools, and kindergartens would start at 11 am today instead of at 8 am. As Tuesdays are a half day anyway, ending anywhere between 12.45 and 1.30 depending on the individual school, this meant that many children wouldn't bother to go in at all.

The issue is that the teachers are not being paid their full salaries. The Treasury says it's a glitch in the computer programmes but it won't promise to fix the problem or pay back what the teachers are owed. I'm sure there must be more to this story. How can they not fix it and pay back what the teachers are owed? On the other hand, this is Israel so maybe this is the case. Who knows. If I find out I'll tell you.

DD was supposed to go on an outing today to the Biblelands Museum. This was canceled as they had to inform the bus company by last night. However, we went to bed last night not knowing whether the strike would happen or not. They always try to negotiate through the night and the final decision is announced on the 7 am news.

So you have to wake up at 7 am anyway. The news was that nothing had been decided and they were taking it to court now. Tune in again at 8 am. I didn't bother to wake DD and just went back to bed with my phone on the bedside table so that I'd hear Whatsapp messages coming in. At 8.40 the message came through - the courts have banned the strike and school will start at 9 am. The Museum outing is still canceled even though they were only planning to leave school at 9 am.

Well blow that for a lark. I woke DD up at 9.30 and we made it into school for 10. It was nice having a lie in on the second day back after the holiday. DD was not satisfied with the extra couple of hours in bed however, and I heard that many other children tried to stage their own counter-strike. Unfortunately most mothers have to go to work and the afternoon programmes were still running till 4.30 so the little ones had to go to school albeit for a shorter day. I have to be in college from 12.30 till 3.30 on a Tuesday so DD wasn't getting a whole day at home.

I was supposed to do my 'kiss and go' duty outside school from 7.30 - 8.15 this morning. I don't know what you call it in the UK or USA but you help the kids out of the cars in front of the school gates so they can just kiss their parent-driver and the parent can drive off without parking or holding up traffic. Well I got out of that so thanks for that small gift to me TU.

I can't find any information about whether anything was solved or promised. I think not as the court ordered the teachers not to strike. I know it messes everyone about but I hate the early mornings in the cold mid-winter so I'm up for strikes, snow days, whatever's on offer. The more the better, I'm not fussy.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, You're Always A Day Away

We made it to the 8th night with presents every night and not a few doughnuts.
It all started about 10 days ago on a Wednesday evening when I was planning how I would come home from work on Thursday and get the apartment ready for my Mum's visit. There I was sitting in a complete mess, pans and dishes left over from a pancake supper all over the kitchen, DD's room would need clearing out and the sheets changed for Mum, the bathrooms needed cleaning, my grading and both our school books were all over the living room. I'd let things slide for a couple of weeks in the manic run up to the end of term at school with parents' meetings (mine and DD's), school concerts and Hanukkah parties.

I was zonked, there was no way I was going to make a start on that Wednesday evening. I reckoned I would have a good four hours to blitz the place after school on Thursday. And then the phone rang. It was the driver I'd booked to meet Mum at the airport. He told me she'd just rung to say she had landed. Rather than wait for him to drive from Jerusalem to pick her up, she said she'd just take a taxi from the airport. I called my nephew in London to check that the information was correct. It was. I had got the day wrong.

I had one hour. DD helped me tidy, dust, sweep and change the sheets in her bedroom. She kept saying, "look at your face Mummy, you look like you're in shock!" I cleaned the toilets, wiped over the basins and mirrors with a wet-wipe, and swept the bathroom floors before going over them with a damp cloth. I was half way through the kitchen detritus when she called to say she was downstairs. (Lucky we booked the taxi that she didn't take or we'd have had no notice at all!)

And here I am on January 1st 2017 still not with the programme. We've had a busy 10 days and it's not over yet. We went to a Christmas concert in the Old City, we went to friends for a Hanukkah party, we had a dinner party here for some friends from London that Mum knows, we had another party here for DD's birthday, we went to the theatre to see Annie, and we went out for dinner on Shabbat. There are only eight days of Hanukkah and we were exhausted by the end.

My not eating sugar went out the window and I had big plans to start again with the New Year. But Mum is still here and the fridge is still full of leftovers. School starts again tomorrow and I've not done any of the projects I'd planned for this holiday - sorting out my photos, sorting and filing great piles of papers, clearing and cleaning the balcony, organizing and decluttering in the hope of getting rid of some more bulky furniture that we shouldn't need, etc, etc, etc....

I've been reading posts on other blogs with the theme of 'bring it on 2017, I'm ready for you!' Well not me. Not quite. Tomorrow maybe. For tonight I'm finishing off the wine and doughnuts and wishing we had another few days of holiday.